Jun 242015

Epigenetics, is it the same as, or different from, cellular memory passed inter-generationally?    (Residential Schools)

Through  “epigenetics” it is understood that trauma affects people inter-generationally.   We circulated info:


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Here we have:
“Day 6”, CBC Radio,  June 6, 2015.  Interview of Amy Bombay.http://www.cbc.ca/player/Radio/Day+6/ID/2668885811/

Can trauma have genetic effects across generations?

The Truth and Reconciliation committee has shed light on the horrors of residential schools in Canada. Dr. Amy Bombay explains the effects that trauma can have over multiple generations in relation to Canada’s First Nations people.

I contacted Amy Bombay and the Current.   Our exchange follows.

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From: Sandra Finley [Sent: June 6, 2015   To: amy.bombay   AT  dal.ca

Subject: Your interview on CBC Radio, Program ” Day Six”.   Epigenetics.

Dear Amy,

I left a voice message on your Dalhousie Office phone.

I sent the following message to The Current  to try and locate an interview done by Anna Maria Tremonti of an American psychiatrist a few years ago.

Just in case you are not aware of it,  I want to pass it along.    If my memory of what was said is accurate,  it has direct application to the generations affected by trauma suffered at Residential Schools.   I have a rudimentary understanding of epigenetics.   I think this is contributory but a little different – –

Best wishes,

Sandra Finley

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I have searched, can’t find.  An interview by Anna Maria.  Woman who had terrible nightmares from childhood, but was from an average middle-class American family.  No explanation for the nightmares.

The woman went into psychiatry, and over time developed a clientele for whom the solutions were in experiences of their parents.  They suffered from events that they had never experienced and knew nothing about.

The Psychiatrist and her Mother went as tourists to Poland, and visited Auschwitz.   Their guide was an elderly woman.   As would unfold (serendipity):  the Psychiatrist’s Mother’s Mother had been herded onto a train bound for Auschwich.  She was able to pass her infant (the Psychiatrist’s Mother) out the train window to a person on the platform.   The infant was spirited away and hidden in a dark basement, where the last thing that could happen was for the baby to cry and their hiding place be revealed.

The woman who cared for and loved the infant happened to be this elderly guide.   It was a tearful re-union.  The Psychiatrist’s Mother did not know of her own experience in infanthood, and had suffered not at all as a consequence of it.  It was her daughter who was impacted by the trauma of her Mother.   The nightmares of the daughter stopped when the source was stumbled upon.

That was the story told in the interview, as I recall these few years later.  I believe that the Psychiatrist wrote a book that documents not only her personal experience, but also some case studies from her practice.

Is it possible that someone at The Current might help find the information related to that interview?   I would like to pass it along to “Day Six” and to First Nations Amy Bombay re June 6/2015 interview.  Amy discussed the impact of trauma, conveyed inter-generationally through Epigenetics  (trauma “tags” attach to DNA and turn biological switches on and off ).

The stories told by the Psychiatrist suggest that cellular memory is also passed inter-generationally (which we know is the case – – for example cells have memory that lead to differentiation of function).

We have conscious and unconscious memory of events that affect us.   But we have not thought that we have within us, unconscious memory of events passed down inter-generationally.  (Some other cultures do have that belief.)   . . .   anyhow, I thought that Amy Bombay might be interested in that interview of the Psychiatrist by Anna Maria.    Thanks for your consideration.

/Sandra Finley

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From: Lisa   On Behalf Of The Current   Sent: June 8, 2015   To:  Sandra Finley   Subject: Re: QUESTION: Interview, few years ago, American Psychiatrist

I am sorry. I don’t recall this at all.

If you want to pitch this to Day 6, they can ask archives to search for this segment. Maybe it was on another program? They have access to all show scripts so hopefully they can find it.

I’ll also flag this to our book’s producer to see if he might remember the book.

Take care,

Lisa Ayuso

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From: Sandra Finley  Sent: June 24, 2015   To: ‘The Current’    Subject: RE:  Interview, few years ago, American Psychiatrist

Re Interview with Amy Bombay, research re inter-generational trauma (residential Schools)

Thank-you Lisa.

I will do as you suggest.


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From: Amy Bombay [Amy.Bombay   AT  Dal.Ca]  Sent: June 8, 2015   To: Sandra Finley   Subject: Re: Your interview on Day Six. Epigenetics. A further consideration, cellular memory passed inter-generationally.

​Wow thanks so much for doing all of this leg-work for me Sandra! I have heard of it and will look into it more…. thanks so much for the email!   In case you are interested, I’ve attached a review article that we wrote….

All the best,


Amy Bombay

Assistant Professor

Department of Psychiatry/School of Nursing

Dalhousie University

(Tried standing on my head, to upload a copy of the attachment.  Need to get the error message resolved.  Did not formerly have this problem.)


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